Bible Revelation

Five Views on the Identity of Babylon in Rev 17-18


Famous commentators and teachers of Scripture often state that Revelation 11 or Revelation 12 are some of the most difficult chapters in the Bible to interpret. However, in my opinion the two chapters about the fall of Babylon are the most difficult for me to interpret and wrestle with.

I’ve heard many ideas about the identity of Babylon, Rome, the United States of America, the Roman Catholic Church, Dallas Texas, Jerusalem, Apostate Christianity, New York City, an unknown future city, or Babylon on the Euphrates.

Five Views on the Identity of Babylon in Rev 17-18
Photo Credit: Matthias Gerung (1500-1570)


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There are several key observations that we need to make about Babylon in Revelation 17-18.

A. Making Other Nations Rich

First, Babylon is described as a world empire with economic influence. Babylon is called “great city” (Rev 17:17; 18:2, 10, 16, 19, 21). The kings of the world have subjected themselves to Babylon and received punishment because they have allowed Babylon to influence them (Rev 17:2; 18; 18:9). The name written on the forehead of the woman is, “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World” (Rev 17:5). Babylon rules over “masses” of people from every nation and language (Rev 17:15). Additionally, it is described as the great city that rules over the kings of the world (Rev 17:18). Babylon’s economic influence is seen in her desires for extravagant luxury (Rev 18:3, 7, 9) which caused merchants of the world to grow rich (Rev 18:3, 11-19).

B. Babylon Was Wicked and Evil

Second, Babylon is described as being evil and wicked throughout both Revelation 17 and 18. The people who belong to this world became drunk on the wine of her immortality (Rev 17:2; 18:3). Babylon is a home for demons and everything that is wicked (Rev 18:2). The nations of the world have committed adultery with her (Rev 18:3, 9). Holy people are told not to participate in her sins otherwise they will be punished with her (Rev 18:4). Babylon’s sins are piled high (Rev 18:5) and she commits evil deeds (Rev 18:6). The two chapters about Babylon end with the most severe of Babylon’s sins about how her streets flowed with the blood of prophets, of God’s holy people, and the blood of people slaughtered all over the world (Rev 18:24).
Babylon will never be inhabited again (Isa 13:20)


A. Apostate Christendom or Apostate Church